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Tracing Space Improvisation

  • Lesson Plan Creator: Lindsey Faber
  • Grades: Junior High, Highschool
  • Subjects: P.E.
  • Part of Class: Warm Ups, Across the Floor, Creative Movement
  • National/State Fine Arts Standards: Create, Perform/Present
  • Genres: Contemporary, Modern
  • Tags: Intermediate, Advanced

Dancers explore different ways of dancing in and with the space through exercises in the center and across the floor

Learning Objectives/Goals

Dance element - space with emphasis on the use of positive and negative space. Dancers explore shape influenced by the objects in the room around them, discovering self space, general space, and connection to other people. 

Materials Needed

Sound Source and instrumental or ambient music


This Lesson will be a guided improv class taking you though a few different modes of exploring space. Class expectations of listening to direction, open mindless, willingness to try new things, and being respectful of their fellow students


4 Sets of Box breathing to center the dancers in the space (4 counts in 4 counts hold 4 counts out 4 counts keep the air out). Then Body isolation warm up improvising moving the head for two 8 counts, arms and shoulder two 8 counts, torso two 8 counts, hips two 8 counts, legs and feet two 8 counts, whole two 8 counts. Repeat sequence again cutting the timing in half each isolation gets one 8 count.


First Exercise: Tracing space Dancers take inspiration from the room around them looking objects, textures, and various angles and shapes and use that as inspiration for improvisation, trying to reflect in their body what they see with their eyes.

Second Exercise: Tracing space across the floor with levels Same influential ideas as exercise one but this time dancers move across the floor in 4 different passes first starting at only a low level, the only a medium level, the only a high level, then for the 4th and final pass all levels are available for experimentation.

Third exercise: Negative Space partner exercise Split into groups of 3 or 4 one mover and 2-3 shape makers. One mover moves through and around the negative space the shape makers create. Periodically ask the shape makers to change their shape to keep the task interesting. Rotate rolls until everyone has had a chance to be the mover.

Fourth Exercise: Same rules as the negative space partner exercise but layering on the task of the mover now must locomote through the space while the shape makers follow and create obstacles for the mover by making different shapes. Movers can not just run or back away from obstacles they must find a creative path forward. Shape makers can not simply grab the mover to prevent them from dancing they must simply make the obstacles with their body. Again rooting roles until everyone has had a chance to be the mover.


Talk in groups have students talk to each other about new things they experienced through the improvisational tasks, what things they see and what things did they like.

Extension to the Lesson

Have on group at a time dance the fourth exercise and talk about the different challenges the exercise creates with the students.

Follow Up Resources

Dance To Learn Video Lessons

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What People are Saying

The diversity of the dancers really spoke to my students! It was great to see boys and girls dancing, and different races. The high level of engagement was so refreshing and got students excited about thecontent.
This activity was valuable because it helped students make connections between dance, rhythm, healthy lifestyles, and expression. The students were impressed by the talent of the dancers and it was motivating to them.
Opportunities for art and expression are so limited at school but so essential and valuable for all students, especially those who struggle to learn through traditional methods. My Kindergarteners have been dancing since you left!
This was so engaging. I looked around the auditorium and every student was watching. Not one person was talking or distracted
This activity is valuable to teachers and students because it gives them a creative outlet. We need movement in the classroom to engage, energize and deepen student learning.
I got great ideas on how to incorporate movement into math and science lessons.
I loved how you made movement and exercise relatable to the students. The dancers were full of energy and there was very little down time so students stayed engaged.
Our children were captivated by the performance. They listened to you and they were learning without knowing. They usually giggle when bodies are shown and talked about. But the way you presented it was so tastefully done, they now do poses and movement around the room and outside. You brokesome barriers and they took that permission and literally ran with it!